Alright — I’ve done a very good job at bumming you all out. I’m a little sorry for that. But we can’t fight an enemy we don’t understand if we allow ourselves to block it out of our consciousness. So perhaps I shouldn’t apologize.
Regardless- this post is about what’s happening right now, and what we’re going to do next, as told by Mr. Bill McKibben. We wrapped up our tour tonight, in Raleigh, NC. And because now I’m not spoiling any surprises- I can share this with all our readers on the internet. It has been absolutely inspiring to hear Bill talk about the potential we hold and the fight ahead. I hope you can read this and feel the same.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that right now, around the world, there is an incredible uprising of determination, frustration, and widespread understanding that our voices are being silenced by the influence of money. The occupy movement, in all of its incarnations, is bringing this to light, and allowing people to be heard once more.
Bill has been to 8 occupies in the past 6 weeks- a veritable tour of a long-needed awakening. The reason is simple- we can’t fight for the planet and affect the positive change we need unless the voices of people mean more than the voices of money.
“Our supreme court has decided corps are people and money is speech. It’s a category error, to call corporations, because they are not. They are not good, and they aren’t evil- they’re simple. People have all these things that cause us to behave in unpredictable and interesting and sometimes baffling ways- we have connections, feelings, we have strange things like religion and art, we have ties to generations that came before us and generations that will come after us. We are incredibly complex.”
“Corporations, on the other hand, are like petri dish with a bit of sugar in one corner- the single celled organism will go to it predictably every time. Corporations will seek out profit and growth, that’s what they’re programmed to do and that’s what they’re supposed to do– but that means that they’re different from people and not fit to be political actors in the same way. We have to correct that error, that corporations are people, or else we’ll keep fighting the same things and we’ll lose this fight.”
This climate crisis is tricky for college kids-. “Young adults”, to use the phrase, have the capacity to understand what this means for our future- for me, it’s that by the time I’ll be ready to settle down and have a family, the earth may be changing, irreversibly, into a place where my children won’t be able to live peacefully. That knowledge is about as awful as it could possibly be. So when there are 4ish years to make the kind of difference needed to save the planet (according to the international energy agency) finishing college is a rather difficult conundrum. This question was raised to Bill at one of the Q&A sessions. His answer was to “go do whatever it is you’re good at, and pursue it, but be a serious citizen at the same time.”
The civil rights movement was made up of every kind of profession, age, race and stature- this movement can be the same. You can be an ecology student or a business owner and still be an active citizen- you can still make the kind of significant difference we need, and still be a part of this fight.
So for the next year, 350 is going to be a little more political than we’ve been recently. 4-5 years to make a difference means that by the end of the next presidential cycle we’ll have a good idea whether we did it or not. We’re going to be fighting for a carbon tax, “but the truth is that it’s not going to happen until we’ve broken the power of the fossil fuel industry to control our politics.”
We have to “beat that other world of concentrated energy, concentrated money and concentrated power- and it’ll be a more difficult fight than any of us understood 10 or 15 years ago. It’s a transition that’s not gonna happen naturally, and it will only happen if we make it happen.”
“The price of being a morally awake person when the worst thing that’s ever happened to the planet is happening, is to get up every morning and figure out how to change those odds- with no guarantee that we’re gonna win.
“But the good news is that it feels to me like we have a movement starting, finally, in this country. It feels more like a movement around the climate than it has in 22 years, and it feels like what people have described to me as what the civil rights movement felt like.”
“It’s time now to get to work as hard as we can. It’s going to be very hard, and very beautiful, and it’s the place where meaning is right now in our time.”
“I look forward to standing shoulder-to-shoulder with every one of you.”